Hit it don't quit it
Carla Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2014 - 12:00am

In a day filled with surprises, YStyle joins delegates from all over Asia to participate in N+TC Live in Singapore for some high intensity training with Nike master trainer Genie Bouchard

MANILA, Philippines - I’m not going to lie — I’m not very big on surprises. I like things exactly where I can see them, mostly within an expected range of outcomes that I can easily extract myself from if need be. That being said, when I received a very cryptic invitation from Nike to participate in a “surprise” event in Singapore, I was a little hesitant. Except, of course, that it was an invitation extended by Nike, arguably one of the best brands to ever grace the realm of sportswear. So despite my initial hesitation, I said yes.

I mean, who says no to Nike?

My first surprise was a big bag of goodies, given to me right before my trip. And when I say big, I mean big. I found myself suddenly in possession of a brand new gym bag, the perfect size for stocking all my new swag including (but not limited to) sneakers, gym pants, a sports bra, a cute top and, best of all, the latest Nike Tech Butterfly Jacket (which I’ve been wearing non-stop since I got it).

Anyone who knows me will tell you that sports are not necessarily my thing. After having been somewhat athletic in high school and university, the real world, a.k.a. working in fashion, managed to cripple my enthusiasm for exercise, substituting it with coffee and cigarettes (a disgusting habit). Despite my “athletic frame” (don’t be fooled, the skinniness is a result of my fashionable poverty diet), my physical fitness regimen post-university usually occurs once a month, maximum, or never — a slow jog around the village every time I feel I am getting a little chubby.

But now, suddenly, I was dripping in great sportswear. Items from the latest Nike collection (that hadn’t even hit the stores yet) were now sitting in my closet, and I couldn’t just let it all go to waste. I didn’t really know what I would be up for in Singapore. But given that it was a Nike event, it must follow that some physical activity would be involved and I definitely didn’t want to be the sad girl at the back of the class unable to finish the exercise program. So I got to work.

In the weeks approaching the big Singapore surprise, I devised a little exercise program of my own, wearing my new Nike Pro Classic bra and knit pants combo as I ran around my village and did burpees in my bedroom. Trust me, it was legit — mostly because of my super cute outfit: the Dri-Fit knit pants and medium support Classic bra allowing me the perfect amount of flexibility and agility in my self-made routine.

A few weeks, more burpees and a flight later, I found myself in Singapore, 100 percent ready for whatever Nike had in store (Triathlon? CrossFit? Circuit training?) — or more like half ready… sort of. Maybe.

Welcomed into the posh new Sofitel So in Singapore (designed by none other than Karl Lagerfeld himself) I was greeted by a bed full of Nike swag — another set of stylish clothes, this time the Dri-Fit knit scoop-neck short-sleeved shirt, the Pro Fierce bra and the much-coveted Studio Wraps, along with an ambiguous little note about our first exercise class. Excited, I tried on everything all at once. The Nike Studio Wraps mimic ballet shoes, with extra support from ribbons tied under the bridge of the foot, all the way up to the ankle, indicative of a studio exercise, rather than the dreaded triathlon I was expecting. The Pro Fierce bra gave more support than the Classic bra — tighter and more holding because of its stretch power mesh material and racerback design, leading me to deduce the next activity would involve a lot more, er, bounce.

I spent the rest of the day getting to know the other delegates, a combination of Nike influencers and other journalists from different countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, including one of the Philippines’ own representatives to Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 2, Katarina Rodriguez — a Nike influencer, top model and track and field star all rolled into one.

All the ladies were quite fit and fully swathed in stylish, head-to-toe Nike. I was both flattered and quite insecure to be in the group — an intimidating bunch for someone in my fitness sphere — but they were all so encouraging about my capabilities and so easy to get along with that my fears abated quickly. The day eventually turned into just a bunch of very sporty-looking, color-coordinated and stylish girls having fun and hanging out.

The next morning I awoke extra early to the biggest breakfast tray I have ever seen in my life delivered directly to my room. As I contentedly lay on my fabulous hotel bed decked out in my super-fit Nike swag, (specially designed, by the way, to tuck and hide and keep in place all my jiggly parts as fashionably as possible), I went to town on the bacon with no qualms whatsoever and contemplated the day ahead. I was suddenly looking forward to exercise for the first time in a long time with a very different attitude.

As it turned out, the first surprise workout was a special Xtend Barre class in the heart of Singapore at Upside Motion Studios, with Brazilian (a.k.a. best body ever) Bia as our trainer for the class. Having never tried any form of Barre thus far, I had no idea what to expect. The music was a pumping, fast-paced mix of modern dance and hip-hop, while the routine was a flow of Pilates, ballet, and dance; a combination of graceful movements set to fast-paced tunes. Needless to say it took me quite a bit of time to get my groove on (I’m not much of a coordinated dancer), but once I got going, the endorphins kicked in and I was on it. One hundred squats? Check. One hundred leg lifts? Check. The Nike Studio wraps were a big help with the slippery wooden studio floor and dance barre, and I felt lot more graceful when facing the ballet-inspired poses because the support ribbons gave my feet a feminine touch (but that might just be the fashion girl in me talking).

After a heavy and delicious buffet lunch (in which I loaded up with some very healthy portions of steak and sushi), I managed to make it back to my hotel room to power nap for the next activity instead of going shopping (I know, strange decision for a fashion girl but I had so many new Nike clothes, I couldn’t think of what else I wanted to buy). And when I arrived at my room, I was again surprised by a lovely bed filled with, you guessed it, more Nike swag. How lucky can one girl get?

A pair of fluro green Nike Zoom Fit Agility sneakers developed specially for hyper-flexibility workouts lay on my bed, along with a full outfit for the evening’s exercise. The shoes, with hexagonal rubber pads at each point of the foot where women feel pressure the most, were specially designed for high-intensity interval training like CrossFit or circuit to boost the jumps and cushion the falls. Along with the shoes, the Pro Rival bra, the highest supporting and most coveted bra in Nike’s newest collection in a black and white spotted print, lay waiting for me. The only bra in Nike’s collection available in 25 different bra sizes ranging from 30B to 38E, and providing the breast support (pun intended) every female athlete needs for her high-intensity workouts, fit me so well I was looking forward to the night’s exercise regimen despite being so tired from the morning’s Xtend Barre. Two high-intensity workouts in one day? Why not? I was pumped and ready for anything.

After a quick nap (I can’t even begin to describe to you the comfort of my lovely bed), I was up and dressed and ready to go. The group and I arrived at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s iconic landmark, and were surprised to see quite a number of young women there. All decked out in Nike as well, over 600 young girls had come to participate in (surprise!) N+TC Live in Singapore, with none other than Master trainer Marie Purvis (one of the original architects of the Nike+ Training Club app) leading us in 30 minutes of high intensity training she designed just for the event. A combination of burpees, squats, lunges, push-ups and similar exercises, the non-stop routine got the crowd pumped and screaming for more. With all the women around me supporting and egging each other on to go harder, faster and further — I was turnt. In such a mass frenzy of exercise, with hard dance music blasting from the speakers, it felt more like a party than an exercise routine and was so much fun. Even if I’m quite sure I’m not the most talented of booty shakers, my booty was shakin’ its thang right alongside everyone else’s.

Biggest surprise of all (yeah, it’s not over yet) was the sudden appearance of the number six women’s tennis player in the world, 20-year-old Genie Bouchard, who came onstage to, well, get turnt with us mere mortals. With both Marie and Genie cheering us on, we managed to get through what was undoubtedly one of the most intense exercise sessions I’ve ever, ever experienced in my life, leaving me with a feeling of elation and the best kind of exhaustion — that of a job well done.

The next morning, as I packed away all the wonderful gifts from Nike and cleared out my hotel room, I lay on my bed one last time and contemplated on how much I had enjoyed the entire Nike surprise. Or rather, 10 surprises. Most surprising of all? The fact that I have since downloaded the free N+TC app on my phone and continued the workouts at home, attended CrossFit training twice this week and signed myself up for some antigravity yoga. Sometimes, the best surprises are the ones you give yourself.

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